One of the major challenges for organizations that offer credentialing services to their members is to manage membership churn (loss of credentialed members over time) and growth. When churn rises too quickly or growth slows unexpectedly, organizational revenue can drop, leading to challenges and reduced offerings or effectiveness within the industry. Luckily, one of the most powerful tools any organization has in managing churn and growth is communication or member engagement. Yardstick Research, a division of Yardstick Software Inc. looks at how credentialing organizations can benefit from creating discourse with members on a regular basis through online engagement platforms such as Yardstick Engage.
Years ago, industry organizations with credentialing authorities likely had a paper newsletter, continuing education opportunities, and (in many cases) a re-certification or continuing certification system to keep members’ skills up to date and benefit the industry. As we near 2020, has your organization kept up? Does modernization just mean an email newsletter instead of a quarterly physical document? The key is to work backwards, from goals of managing churn and encouraging growth, in order to start forging stronger cross-organization communications.
Stop talking at people
If there’s one thing everyone gets enough of, it’s emails telling them what to think, what to buy, and updating them about the 400 things they’re signed up for. We live in an age of over-talking, but what has become rare is a company or organization that actively listens. One of the benefits of running communications online is the ability to creatively implement strategies. Does your organization talk at people too much? Maybe it’s time to start asking questions.
The great part about asking questions is it takes the onus off of your strategy or communications team to know what to tell people. Draft some questions based on key topics you notice within your industry and get your membership to answer. Then take that data and build a feedback mechanism to show your membership what everybody thinks. If you’ve ever seen an interesting poll on Facebook take off, the same mechanics are at play here. You can ask simple “yes/no”, or “rate 1-10” questions or you can get creative. Here’s one interesting example of what feedback can look like through our platform:
1. First, we gave people a statement to evaluate.
2. Then, we asked people to highlight which phrases they liked with or disliked.
3. Then we provided respondents with live feedback– a link where they could see the results of what everyone else was thinking.
This type of engagement is not only informative – you can get an answer to almost any type of question you may have – but also engaging. Your membership base will look forward to emails and actually answer questions.
The result of running engagement like this is that your membership feels heard. This is extremely important in managing churn for an organization. Particularly when people’s careers are affected, such as when your organization is in charge of handling credentials or certificates, members want to know that you are on top of the industry as a whole and that you care about what the membership base feels. Giving people a direct poll -> result mechanism with your emails is a great way to accomplish these goals.
Engage consistently, over time
Having lots of data feels great. So great, in fact, that some teams will go to the effort of collecting it and then sit on it until it’s out-of-date. One of the risks you will run when you begin getting feedback from your membership base is that of “information overload.” Your team knows it has one chance a year to reach out to members and get some feedback, so every question that’s been logged for research in the past 12 months makes its way into an ever-growing survey, and nobody enjoys that. Your membership doesn’t want to take a 25-minute survey, and it’s difficult for your organization to digest and take action on that much data.
The way things are moving is towards a more consistent, natural approach to data collection. We help organizations reach out quarterly, monthly, or in some cases even weekly, and the membership base appreciates it. Not only do they not have to decide between taking a chunk of their day to fill out your survey or not be heard at all, but they know your org is constantly improving. From an engagement, optics, and data collection perspective, the idea of short engagements – pulse reads – is ideal.
We help credentialing organizations set up online panels of their membership base through our platform, Yardstick Engage, which allows for these short and frequent engagements. When your members feel heard, and they know you care, you improve your industry authority. Instead of being another case of “Oh, I need to get that certification to keep my job,” your entire position in the industry can become more respected. People know you have done your due diligence in being cutting edge with industry engagement, and you use that data to improve your credentialing services, continuing education opportunities, and other areas.
Use your data to grow membership
Another benefit of having access to great data from your current member base is you can use those insights to attract new members. Did you learn through your research that people in your industry are often concerned about how to approach x or overcome y in their day-to-day work? Create some messaging about how credentialing with your organization can help support those areas – maybe even do a public-facing monthly blog piece for people searching about those topics. The possibilities are endless.
The key is constant engagement with your membership. Every time you engage with credentialed members, you have the chance to gain new knowledge, and hence new avenues to speak to potential members. If the credential or certification your organization offers is a mandatory requirement for your industry, that doesn’t mean your organization couldn’t offer a more holistic value to current and potential members. Listen. Learn. Add value. When everyone’s attention is being pulled in every direction all day, being the organization that listens and provides solutions (or even just facilitates open discussion) gives you leverage and increased share of voice.
How can Yardstick Research help you achieve these goals?
Yardstick Research is a market research company with over 20 years of experience dealing with organizations of all types. We believe that as our world changes, so too do the means by which decision-makers need to engage with their stakeholders. This is why, in 2019, we have launched our new online panel platform – Yardstick Engage.
Yardstick Engage allows organizations and associations of all types to create or load their audience into a powerful research platform for timed engagements. The platform handles surveys, mailouts, and database management on the back end, and allows decision makers and stakeholders within the organizations to foster dialogue with members.
Your organization can reach out to credentialed members on an as-needed or timed basis, and serve key results back to respondents while generating more detailed reports for leadership. You forge a relationship based on trust and communication while enjoying the benefits of a stronger industry community where your organization is a leader.
As a credentialing organization, you play a key role in the current state and future of your industry – be sure to find a way to engage with your member base on a regular basis and start seeing the benefits to your overall churn and growth.
For more information on Yardstick Engage and how we can work together to support the goals of your organization, read about the platform here, and reach out to us at any time.